Kara Hartrich

Roxanne Hartrich (Kara's Mother)

ROXANNE: My daughter was four years old the day that the dogs attacked her and she died. It was her birthday. It was her fourth birthday. My mom was the one that was there babysitting the kids when it happened. She went in the other room to put a toy back. My mom went out the sliding door. Kaylee was with my mom, right next to the sliding door, and Kara came running from the playroom — I guess, not running, but quickly walking towards my mom and she said, “Brody knocked me into a wall.” She said, “Brody hurt me.” My mom bent down. She was down at ground level. She picked up Kara. They were on ground level. She was hugging her saying, “Brody didn’t mean it, Kara. I’m sure it’s just an accident. Are you okay?” She said she had barely gotten that out when Brody came flying from the playroom and jumped into the air and attacked my mom and my daughter. He attacked her out of my mom’s arms. My mom has a big long permanent gash across her forehead. And he attacked Kara. And my mom tried to get him off her for a second. Then she thought, “I need to try to figure out what to do. I need to make sure Kaylee’s okay.” Kaylee’s our two-year-old. That’s her little sister that was there. She gathered her up and she put her on the stairway. She didn’t know the situation was so serious. She thought that she would be able to pry Brody off or lure him. She tried food, she tried things from her cabinet. She tried to pull him off. She tried to open his mouth. She wasn’t able to do anything. And he continued to attack her. He initially went straight for the jugular. And he also bit her face, her head, everywhere, her arms, her legs. My mom was finally able to lure him off of her. And when she finally did that the other dog came in and attacked her as well.


And it wasn’t ’til I pulled over into the neighbor’s house that I realized that everything was going on at my house. I got out of my car. I was met by my husband and my mom and police officers and firemen and they said, “You need to go to BroMenn. Go to BroMenn now. We’ll meet you there.” And the doctor came in and he said,
“Your daughter’s gone. There’s nothing we can do for her.” And he said, “Prepare yourself. The damage is… going to be excruciatingly painful to see.”

“And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief.” ― William Cullen Bryant  

We have three dogs. We have an older one. He was just a little over two. His name is Brutus. He’s a purebred Amstaff. Papered, registered, all shots registered, everything current. Never displayed any signs of aggression towards people, towards animals. He was the sweetest dog. He thought he was a lap dog. And he played with my kids. He had tea parties with my kids. The same with the other two. We had a boy and a girl Brutus, Brody and Bella. They were one, also papered… excuse me, registered. It was the two boys, Brutus was two, Brody was one. Bella was in her crate at the time. She didn’t have anything to do with it, but after it we went ahead and put all three of them down. The girl was fixed. The boys were both in plans to be fixed. So we hadn’t gotten them fixed yet but we had consulted the vet. He had recommended having us get them fixed. He didn’t say that it was something that we absolutely had to do right away but that it was something we needed to plan on. So we had that in the plans, we just had not done it yet. He had said that some of them exhibit aggressive behaviour and if that was the case in our case, we needed to get them fixed. And it wasn’t, so we weren’t too concerned. I can’t necessarily tell you that I think if we had our dogs fixed this wouldn’t have happened. I can’t say that ’cause it’s happening all across the country to dogs that aren’t and that are. So, no, I can’t really say that.

In retrospect, I wish I could turn back the clock and had I known what I know now, they’re absolutely correct, we shouldn’t have had them around our kids. My little girl is gone because we were, in essence, ignorant. We were ignorant to what could possibly happen.


The ones that are attacking are the family dogs. The ones that people are raising from puppies through… because that’s what you’re told. You’re told, “If you do get a larger breed dog or anything of that nature to get them as puppies because then you have ultimate control over everything they’ve ever been exposed to, and then you raise them. You raise them in the way that you want them to be raised.” That’s the other biggest fallacy that this is happening because of the owners, this is something that the owners are doing, and the owners are training them to be mean. Our dogs were never trained to be mean. They were socialized. They were brought around people. They were walked around our neighborhood regularly.

They say, “You have to teach your kids. Teach your kids to be around dogs.” You cannot teach a one- or two-year-old or three-year-old or four-year-old that if a dog comes after you and it’s attacking not to run. You can tell them that, but they’re not going to be able to mentally process that when the situation occurs.

“There is an hour, a minute – you will remember it forever – when you know instinctively on the basis of the most inconsequential evidence, that something is wrong. You don’t know – can’t know – that it is the first of a series of “wrongful” events that will culminate in the utter devastation of your life as you have known it.” ― Joyce Carol Oates

The one thing that they say does help, is to have a break stick — which is another thing I found out after the attack. Information that people that do have them, there’s things that they need to have, they need to have a break stick. It’s something that they put in their mouths that helps make a pit bull release. It’s not that their jaws lock. ‘Cause that’s another common fallacy that’s out there that’s not true. Their jaws don’t lock. They just don’t want to let go. They are bred for fighting, they’re bred for… When something happens with a normal dog — a tail gets pulled, an ear gets pulled or something of that nature — a dog will reach out and they’ll nip, they’ll bite. They’ll demand respect. They’ll bite or they’ll do whatever they need to do. A normal dog will bite. A pit bull will attack. Pit bulls, large fighting breeds, anything in that — AmStaffs, things of those size that are meant to do that — they don’t bite, they attack. And they’re bred to attack until they kill.

It’s more than just pit bulls. But the thing is that 79% of the attacks are by pit bulls. So whether or not those are getting all the attention or not, those are the dogs that are killing. Every time something happens people say, “Oh, it’s the pit bull.” There’s no other way to say it. It is the pit bulls that are attacking. It is the pit bulls that are maiming. It is the pit bulls that are causing death. There are other dog bites. They’re not causing these kinds of injuries. So it’s really a hard fact to argue.

What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. – Helen Keller

I do know many, many, many, many people who have them, and whose dogs are what appears to be the kindest, sweetest, most loving. I would never say to another person, “We need to get rid of your dog.” I don’t know that that’s right. I know many people in our organization, people that are around us, are advocating for banning. Myself, I don’t know that I can say that.


I would encourage anyone in anyone’s family that has a pit bull or knows people with pit bulls, speak your mind. Tell them what you’ve seen, tell them what you’ve heard, tell them what you know. Point them in the direction of the different sites that you can go to, and let people educate themselves.

People need to be aware, these are not the kind of dogs to have around your kids. They’re not. I know they seem loving and cuddly and wonderful and loyal and I know that people who have them will swear up and down that their dog is wonderful, this was just some kind of freak accident. These dogs came from a loving home.

Kara was never… they say some kids are, you know, abusive to dogs or pick or… she was very respectful. She’d grown up around dogs. She knew, she didn’t get in their faces, she didn’t pull on them, she didn’t sit on them, she didn’t do any of those things.

There’s no reason for why this happened. And that’s the really scary part for me, is knowing that there’s millions and millions of people with pit bulls and they’ve all got kids. And I can’t go backwards but what I can do is try to educate and try to put the word out to let people know that this is happening. And I pray it doesn’t happen to them, because no one wants to live this life. This is the worst kind of hell any mother can go through.

“Your absence has gone through me like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color.”  – W.S. Merwin

Kara's Garden

Kara’s Garden


Interview with CINews Now